Besides house training a pet and wrapping fragile glassware for a cross-country move, the South Bend Tribune is also occasionally good for a laugh. And I'm not talking about Family Circus here. (On a side note—are the 'Not Me' phantoms from the comic strip really the ghosts of the countless children that the father molested and murdered in the basement of that house? I've always kind of thought so.)
The South Bend Tribune, like many smaller market newspapers, can't afford to pay real journalists—you know, the heavy-hitters who cover the Queen's jubilee on the Today show—so it has to settle for whatever reasonably literate people (without felony convictions or active Klan memberships) that it can scrape up. As a result, the paper's Mike Wallace moments tend to involve muckraking exposés of funnel cake price fixing at the Blueberry Festival and other hard-hitting news stories like 'This Heat Wave: When Will It End?' Lower-priority wire reports concerning politics, massacres, and major wars are buried on page 7 beside the JCPenney ad. We have to leave the space on the front page open for a story about sweet Sister Mary Francis, who turns 105 this weekend. (She will be celebrating by walking to the bathroom and mumbling incoherently. A reporter will be on-hand to ask her probing questions like: 'What's your secret to longevity, Sister?' To which, she will answer, 'Not dying.' Everyone will laugh and congratulate her for her amazing accomplishment: i.e., not being dead yet.)
But by far the greatest wellspring of humor in the South Bend Tribune is found in the Voice of the People—a special—I dare say, even magical section in the Op-Ed pages devoted to the letters of people who have previously only communicated with livestock. Now we all know that there are countless crazy people in the world—this certainly isn't news—but what's surprising is that the South Bend Tribune actually prints the letters of crazy shut-ins all the time. I'm not exactly sure whether this is an act of charity or just a last resort, for want of any sane or insightful letters to print, but I do suspect that Margaret Arendt of Syracuse probably has twelve decomposing cats in her pole barn:
So dig this: This bitch is livin' it up in Branson or where-the-fuck-ever people like Margaret Arendt go, and her 'housesitter' (Mongoloid basement-dwelling nephew, probably) calls her up—frantically, I'm sure—because some pranksters stole a dumb yard sign decorated with Christian-nationalist propaganda.
Margaret was so upset by this heinous crime that she not only employs the rhetoric of moral incredulity (and an exclamation point!), she also spends three whole paragraphs underscoring the bitter irony (probably without even realizing it) that the very sign that asked God to save the nation was purloined by those nefarious, God-hating forces which seek to destroy its moral foundations. (Now that deserves a fucking exclamation point!)
I especially love this awkward sentence: 'Which of those three words would stir such emotion for someone to commit crimes?' (The answer is clearly 'Save.' That word just makes me want to strangle babies.)
Okay, Margaret Arendt is likely mentally ill, so we shouldn't make fun of what an incredibly dumb fuck she is. She probably can't help it! But why on earth is the South Bend Tribune—bastion of fine journalism that it is—publishing this dreck? I don't know. But I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth... Would I rather read the kind of insightful letters about the nuances of American politics that the New York Times publishes or the Voice of the People's crackpot letters about homosexuality enjoying the ministrations of Satan?
(That's a rhetorical question.)